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Gray Calls For Wepman's Ouster

D.C Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, still fuming over last Thursday's confrontation with with Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, called Monday for the head of school system CFO Noah Wepman, who did not report the existence of a $12 to $13 million deficit in its 2010 budget.

"It was shocking to me that we had an unreported deficit," Gray said at his weekly legislative briefing. "We ought to change the person over there."

Wepman handles school finances but reports to District CFO Natwar M. Gandhi, who certified the 2010 budget not knowing that it was out of balance. Spokesman David Umansky declined Monday to discuss Wepman's status.

"It's a personnel matter, so there's nothing we can say, he said.

Gray said Gandhi is "deeply concerned" about Wepman's disclosure, which came at Thursday's council hearing on Rhee's decision to lay off 266 teachers and staff. Rhee revealed that she elected to reverse a council decision cutting $9 million in summer school funding and achieve the required savings by laying off some of the educators.

Wepman and Rhee said the school agency had accrued spending pressures in fiscal. 2009 that necessitated some of the $43.9 million that they cut form the 2010 budget this month through layoffs. Gray left open the possibility of calling for an audit of school spending.

--Bill Turque

By Washington Post editors  |  November 2, 2009; 12:17 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque  
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Comments

" who did not report the existence of a $12 to $13 million deficit in its 2010 deficit."

?? Mr. Turque, is this what you'd call "riddled" with writing errors? Please don't correct it. It's only fair to let it stand. What's good for a fired principal, is good for you.

On another subject, who's surprised that poor Mr. Wepman would be taking the fall for Michelle Rhee?

Perhaps he can take heart in knowing it's for a noble cause.

Remember, Rhee said: "If I go down at the end of the day because I didn't play the political game right, that's okay with me. At least when you're making decisions that you believe are in the best interests of kids, you may not win in the end, but at least you can operate with a good conscience."

But something about the look on poor Mr. Wepman's face at the hearing suggested he did not feel he was operating with a good conscience.

Posted by: efavorite | November 2, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Turque -- how did you make that e"2010 deficit" error just disappear and why didn't you do it for the fired principal you exposed and berated a fews days ago? In that case, you never had to mention the writing error in the first place. In this case, you could have added a correction, instead of making it disappear and potentially making me look like a wacko for referring to something that's not there anymore.

Seriously - not that big a deal. We all make mistakes and journalists make mighty few, considering how much and how fast they write.

Please be a little kinder to your non-journalist subjects next time. We all don't live in the world of words the way you do.

Alert: at least one Washington Post writer made a mistake in a blog article today.

Posted by: efavorite | November 2, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

You know age-discrimination can be two-fold in some cases. Poor Wepman...that young whipper-snapper, he irritated the Old-g from the council-hood. The Old-g wants the youngster outta here...wasn't it grandstanding enough...when the Old-g said to the whipper-snapper...you stay, I want you to stay around. What I thought was funny was cross-examination of McDonald from Catania....once he validated Catania assertion...he was like the road-runner "beep-beep."

Does anyone knows of Wepman's career-path he was with DCPS at one level, then he left and came back at a hire level? Also, why is that DCPS can't keep a CFO...what happened to Wepman also happen to the CFO that was under Janey...they come to a council hearing and they are banished off to the island-of-embeciles?

Posted by: PowerandPride | November 2, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Wepman felt pressure from Rhee to do what he did. If so, it's Rhee who should take the fall for this - not Wepman.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 2, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

All sarcasm aside, I do feel sorry for Mr. Wepman. I suspect he’s a decent guy who got in with the wrong crowd. I think he’s learned a hard lesson which will serve him well for the rest of his life.

I think something bigger could come out of it too. I think other decent people in the Rhee administration will see what ultimately comes from doing things they know aren’t right in the service of Michelle Rhee’s bogus plan to save the children. They’ll stop being lemmings. They’ll start speaking up. What do they have to lose? Their jobs?

They’ll either get fired one by one like poor Mr. Wepman and the outspoken CFO who preceded him, or en masse when Rhee is ousted. If they stop doing things they know aren’t right, they can save their self-respect and maybe actually do something good for children in the process.

Posted by: efavorite | November 2, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

After viewing the "hearings" between Dr. Ghandhi , Wepman , assistant and the council. I really believe Wepman's lack of experience was exposed. However, I do not believe he should be the "fall guy" nor should he be thrown "under the bus".
He did not make financial decisions by himself. The "manangement team" was a part of the decision making and if he resigns they need to do as well. Let's be fair.

Posted by: nicstew | November 2, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

efavorite..I agree. Mr. Wepman, bless his heart looked seriously perplexed. Like what the hell is happening?! But this is typical DCPS/DC government madness. Run Mr. Wepman Run!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: nicstew | November 2, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

efavorite - do not feel sorry for Wepman. Fenty will protect him along with his Rhee charade!!!!

when the CFO was really independent, any bad publicity could get some one ousted. But let's be frank, Gandhi is a Fenty pawn since the DC tax office scandal. Fenty appointed Wepman CFO from the CAO's office. Wepman's name would not pass the HR certification process for the CFO position, just as Rhee would not make certs for a Chancellor.

Wepman is not qualified for the job, he is well connected. If you saw his resume you would see it clearly. He is essentially a Rhee. His limited experience had him placed in the CFO position, a positon well above his quals. OMG, he is one that has benefitted from many many perks in DC government! He's young white guy in DC government 6 or 7 years with no finance office experience and he is a CFO of the largest agency in city government? Compare his resume to the other City CFOs.

If Wepman is fired or removed that means there is a rift in the school movement. Watch one of the key DCPS advocates start making HARSH comments on DCPS. Notice the 21st Centruy folks and Levy have calmed down. There have not been any budget, finance or central admin comments since he has been there. There's a long DCPS rumor that he and Levy are related. Wepman also used to work for Taglerini when he was CAO. He left Taglerini after the last CFO was fired for alerting her superiors that Rhee would run a deficit in year one. so there's precedent for not informing anyone.

Folks see Wepman's boyish face and think he is innocent. he was a manager in DCPS Spec. Ed Office. All the age old problems of DCPS can be found while he was in that chair. any issue under Special Ed, his name is probably involved.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 2, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

efavorite is in a scolding mode. perhaps (she) was a DCPS teacher, eh?

Posted by: axolotl | November 2, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Noah Wepman was around with DCPS for a long time so he is not that innocent. He and Madame Chancellor should be audited, charged in Court and ultimately fired. I believed every person she named for Councilman Thomas on her 'management team' should be deposed and handled accordingly. Rhee has fired hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people for 'not being the right fit,' without evaluations and breaking the law. Why should SHE be treated any differently?

Wepman looked terrified throughout the hearing and Dr. Gandhi looked furious. Wepman was shifting in the chair, tugging on his collar, loosening his tie, breaking out in a sweat and drinking water. That man was SCARED!!

I believe Wepman was threatened before he reported to the hearing. He should have saved himself and told the truth. The biggest thing for me is that Wepman did not consult with Dr. Gandhi about the matter. That to me indicates he knew and decided to conceal everything but had amnesia when questioned by the Council. In my eyes he participated in conspiracy and collusion to manufacture a RIF.

The other gentleman from Dr. Gandhi's office whose name I can't remember had no problem telling things because he more than likely wasn't expected to speak.
It's getting to be the same with every agency in the city with the Fenty regime. They appear to lie and conspire like rugs on display at Carpet World.

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 2, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Gray should be calling for Rhee and Fenty's ouster as well.

Posted by: DCWatcher3 | November 2, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the background here on Mr. Wepman. Please note I haven't said I thought he was innocent. I think he got in with the wrong crowd - not that he had an option, once assigned to DCPS - and was outclassed and overpowered and simple gave in and let himself by corrupted - hoping a day like the council hearing would never come. When it did, he saw his goose was cooked.

All speculation on my part, of course, but his face spoke volumes

I think he should go for what he did - but not just him - the whole crew, eventually.

Rhee seemed almost gleeful when she spouted off the names of the other members of her management team who were privy to the decision to RIF.

Something's up. Maybe they've made a blood pact to defend her to the end.

I don't think it will endure.

Posted by: efavorite | November 2, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite, I totally understand what you mean. Wepman's biggest mistake was not telling his supervisor what was going on since he is supposed to be an unbiased guardian of the funds and the foolish part came in with sitting beside Rhee and trying to lie with the natural expertise Rhee has. It was probably sinking once Chairman Gray asked him to stay that, to use your phrase, "his goose was cooked."

I also noted the glee Rhee had when calling out names for her 'management team' as well as the Attorney General and her general counsel. Her Chief of Staff Lisa Ruda is an employment attorney from Ohio. I hardly doubt employment law is too terribly different there. So, as far as people can account, supposedly THREE attorneys advised her to arbitrarily and capriciously terminate people.

Rhee also just hired a new person on her staff as well, Josh Edelman out of Chicago, to serve as Head of The Office of School Innovation. Josh Edelman is the son of Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund. Here's a quote from the article and below it is the link to the article:

"Edelman, an outsider to Chicago, was hired by former district chief Arne Duncan, now the U.S. Secretary of Education. He arrived from Washington, D.C., where he served for four years as the principal of The SEED School, the nation’s oldest and most successful urban boarding school. He’s the son of Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Josh Edelman went to Harvard University."

Source: http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/sep/20/news/chi-cps-charter-schools-20-bdsep20

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 3, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Noah Wepman has been screwing up budgets for years. He should have been fired long ago, especially that period when he said he left. He left because of a major screw up with the special ed budget and returned when the smoke cleared. Ghandi was negligent then as he has been too many times. Rhee should also be gone because she knew of the spending pressures as well. That's willful mismanagement. It's a crime.

It's strange how so many people in DCPS knew of Wepman's incompetence but the CFO himself. Yeah Right!

Posted by: candycane1 | November 3, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Efavorite: I remember when she made that comment. What we now know is that Rhee does not have a conscience. That's the only explanation of knowing about a budget pressures but allowing employees to be the sacrificial lambs. There should be more talk of an audit and the Feds raiding DCPS as well as Ghandi's offices.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 3, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Candycane1, tell us more about that special education budget fiasco with Wepman. What happened?

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 3, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Now be mindful...to have the black councilmembers on the dias to call for a white man's dismissal has a simmer of reverse discrimination.

My early dealings with Wepman was under Dr. Janey and he [Wepman] was horrendous. He was part of Janey's outreach team and he would come into the neighborhood as unprepared as any non-interested outsider could have been; the token phrase back then to all of Janey's regime questions were "I will get back with you on that."

In all honesty Wepman comes across very collegiate and knowledgeable in his comfortable surroundings. But let's be real and honest the CFO position at DCPS has the job-security of a Redskin's coach at this moment.

At one point the representation of the CFO at the council hearing resembled a typical version of bad joke... You know that joke when it begins...There were three guys, one was white, one was black and the other was Indian and the white guy says...

You all know the rest

Posted by: PowerandPride | November 3, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

At some level, I suppose all her employees are sacrificial lambs to the cause, aka "the best interests of children."

Posted by: efavorite | November 3, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I did not see the hearing, but Noah Wepman was the budget/finance manager of the Special Ed Office when I was with DCPS. By handling the money he handled all purchasing and staffing issues as well. It seemed like he was the #2 guy of the office in many ways. (This was at least 7 years ago for me so imagine how young he looked then.) Everything had to go to or through him. So all of those Special Ed and many broad DCPS issues that you have heard since 2002 or 2003 involve him. The gross overspending for private school tuition for DCPS student placements mushroomed under him. Issues of staffing, special Ed placement and facility improvements occurred under him. Issues with failed student info systems happened under him. Issues with medicaid happened under him. Issues of misuse of federal grant funds happened under him. there's probably more. I don't put all the blame on him but he was not a solution for anything either.

Many may not recall that much of the spending pressures DCPS had in the early 2000s were due to Special Education overspending. for those of you that recall when DCPS schools did not have paper towels and toilet paper because 825 cut off their spending, it was because of Special Ed being way over budget and central needing unspent dollars from schools and other offices to cover the potential deficit. It seemed like an annual occurrence because of special ed issues, everyone's budget was being impacted. so you tried to spend or obligate your budget quickly. System wide procurement and staffing was often stalled if not outright frozen. it was a mess.

The one thing I might say in his defense is some of the things were just a continuance of existing madness in DCPS Special Ed. nonetheless they happened under his watch. The Spec Ed Directors never seemed to address core issues. There's been a void in leadership in this area for a long time. Bryant was director of SpecEd when I was with DCPS. The guy would impress you for the 1st 2 minutes, but within 5 minutes you knew he was full of sht. I can not remember the lady that temporarily replaced Bryant, but Wepman was pretty much on his own island then. it appeared he was left to explain/defend a number of things that happened under Bryant. instead of going from the frying pan to the fire, somehow the kid ended up with a higher level position in Janey's cabinet. That's when folks in DCPS realized this guy really knows somebody and all this concern over educating "children" was pure BS. Politics and who you know rule.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 3, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Oknow - interesting -- so maybe he's seen this day coming for a long, long time.

Posted by: efavorite | November 3, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Oknow: You hit it on the head! It was Marla Oats that started making some real noise about Wepman for the special ed budget screw up and she took a bit hit for doing so. Out went Wepman, and as far as I'm concerned he was just hidden on the district side under Ghandi's wing.

That last CFO of DCPS was named Graham, I believe. She tried but ended up having to fall on the sword because she was exposing a lot of budget issues. That wasn't good for Rhee. In comes Wepman again. The rest is history and as everyone can see, he picked up where he left off. Screwing up, making major mistakes and covering up to help Rhee accomplish what she really wanted. As always Ghandi says the responsibility rests with him and he should be falling on his own sword too.

I can't get past a CFO that would withold documents from the city auditor. To me, that's a CFO that would do wrong and he has. I'm tired of people praising him. That should have stopped $50 million ago.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 3, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

You're right...the lady named was Graham and she didn't fair too well once she sat before the Council. Is it me, or is it like you expect a disclaimer to come across the television when someone from DCPS speaks in regards to budget issues?

I do believe that during Janey's era and with Wepman many could not disallow the fact that this guy was young but qualified and he yielded the power of "denied or approved" and no one second-guessed him to a point. Really, Dr. Janey surrounded himself with very few white males...the only ones that come to mind so-far are Dan Gohl, Noah Wepman and Bill Wilhoyte.

Again the inevitable is that once you have appeared before the council your chances of being banished is quite predictable.

Posted by: PowerandPride | November 3, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Pam Graham was sabotaged by Rhee as well. She had issues of staff loyalty as some of the people on her staff really reported to Rhee. that's not poor mgmt, that was deals worked by Gandhi. Wepman, as education program manager for Taglerini worked directly with Rhee and people on Graham's staff to develop budgets and other docuements. Graham was left out the circle developing these documents and was exposed/thrown under the bus at a council hearing too.

I actually talked to some city people and to my shock MANY folks feel sorry for Wepman. that caught me by surprise because many know WEpman's history. To them they are not shocked at the fact Rhee threw Wepman under the bus. Despite his connections, it validated ANY and EVERYONE is expendable to her. It refreshed my impression of Rhee as an absolute cold blooded %^@&%. How this lady or Fenty can survive is beyond me. this is so far from being about educating kids its getting comical.

Wilhoyte has survived DCPS since at least the Vance admin. He's the only Asst. Superintendent I am aware to survive 3 changes in administration. I can't say he is good or bad, but he has survived the DCPS madness for a long time.

Dan Gohl was good. the model he set up at Mckinley Tech was impressive. I figured the Rhee regime would love him. I don't know the circumstance of his leaving, but I just cannot see how Rhee could argue not retaining the guy. I assume he left on his own terms.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 3, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite: Trust me Wepman has never thought this day was coming. He's been too connected and even when he was caught misappropriating federal money, he was walking around free for things that others would be looking at an indictment. He might have a little boy face but there is nothing little about his crimes and he didn't give a damn.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 3, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Wilhoyte has survived because he operates just like Rhee. He has that run and tell MO that Rhee loves. He was not popular with his other assistant supts, he wasn't trusted. His principals didn't like him either. So he's perfect for Rhee.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 3, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Wepam deserves to be fired for lying.

I hate Rhee and the entire council because they are all ignorant and wish they went to Harvard for undergrad( Rhee no one cares about KSG any idiot can get in there you went to Cornell because it is without a doubt the easiest Ivy to get into you label seeker) or held positions that anyone outside DC gave a damn about.

Dan Gohl and Josh Edel are good guys. Please don't disparage them if you have not met them.

Posted by: mike888888 | November 3, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Mike888888, I agree with you that Dan Gohl is a good guy. As for Josh Edel, I don't know him and made no negative comment about him. My point for posting the information is that Rhee hired another person for her already bloated team just before firing teachers. That doesn't seem right to me.

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 3, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

If Gray is going to go as far as calling for Wepman's ouster, he needs to realize Rhee is not innocent. She's the agency head and the books need to be seized. Look at the jobs lost due to incompetence and willful mismanagement. If Wepman wasn't fired the next day, then Ghandi can't be trusted. He's part of the problem.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 4, 2009 6:14 AM | Report abuse

candycane, Gandhi has been part of the problem for years. solid financial management should cross check the performance of policies or management of the City itself. Problem with DC is there's no true management taking. it amazes me that people think Fenty and rhee are effective simply because it seems like they are ruffling feathers. All Gandhi cares about is his image. So if you bring issues that rise to him or his name comes in play, he will handle you swiftly. That ranges from running a deficit to DC checks bouncing to fraud cases to poor public hearings. However, there are untouchables that often have the complexion of Wepman. it will be interesting to see how this plays out. They will find another position for Wepman, but if they remove him from the CFO position I would be shocked.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 4, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

oknow1: I agree with you 100%. If they remove Wepman it will only be a lateral move some place else under Ghandi.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 4, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

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